Farming Vocabulary to Know: Rice Farming Terms and Phrases

August 16, 2023

This week’s episode Cahokia Rice and the River: Intertwined Story of Improvement & Adaptation, seemed to tap brain cells and rice farming terms that I don’t use everyday so I thought maybe putting together a good list of some of that together in a past may be helpful.

Managing Water on Rice Farms

Here are some of the water-focused terms — many of which you can see in the photos below and can also catch in the rice farm tour video we posted with the episode:

Water Control

Like farmers need to control insects or weeds to make sure the crops can grow, with rice, water control is important. This can involve adjusting levee gates or implementing irrigation systems.

Flooded Fields

Rice farming depends on managing water and flooding fields. A flooded field is a field where you are intentionally inundating agricultural it with water, typically to grow crops like rice or even off season to provide a habitat for water fowl. Flooding creates optimal growing conditions for certain crops.

flooded rice field


I typically thing of using a tarp to cover things in my yard, a pickup truck, etc, but in rice farming, that large sheet of heavy-duty plastic is used to cover aa gap in the levees where water moves between two sections of a field. Without the tarp, the water would simply erode the levee and it would be a pain to rebuild time and time again. in flooded fields to prevent water from seeping through. 


People along rivers are probably familiar with levees — protective embankments or walls built alongside bodies of water to prevent flooding. Using levees in rice farming is a bit different. You build levees in and around sloped fields to manage water during the process of flooding and draining rice fields. Levees can be straight or curved, it really depends on whether the land is level throughout. 

Levee Gates

Gates are places in the level where farmers can let water move from one section to another. They can be opened or closed to control the flow of water. Blake showed us an earthen gate. rice farming terminology

Other Rice Farm Concepts

Tillage Tools

Tillage tools are used to prepare the soil for planting. Most people talk about tractor attachments when they talk tillage on a farm scale, but Blake talks about the geese as amazing tillage tools as they mow down the field, flipping and stirring up the soil during the winter months when there is a lot of rice straw in the flooded fields. Cracks me up but it’s such a good & accurate image too! 


A natural system that uses living organisms to filter out impurities or contaminants from water or air. Appreciate that Blake describes how the rice field acts as a living biofilter as the muddy water from the river passes through the soil which holds onto any mud, etc, leaving behind clear water at the outflow.

Castmagic is the AI tool (link to Castmagic & give me a referral fee that doesn’t impact your cost) that helps with some of the content shared here and on social channels. It helps me do more faster since I don’t stare at a blank screen. 

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